Insurance Agent Interests   04/12/2021

Growing Your Insurance Business With Social Media

By Joseph Peters

Growing Your Insurance Business With Social Media

Insurance agents are flocking to social media platforms as a way to grow their businesses. If you’re ready to join in, check out our best practices here.

Although agents and consumers got off to a slow start using social media for insurance purposes, they have accelerated greatly in recent years. If you’re selling insurance and not leveraging these new platforms to better engage with prospects and clients, it’s time you got started.

In a nutshell, here is why. Social media helps to launch agent/consumer relationships. According to LIMRA by 2019, 42 million U.S. consumers were looking to hire someone to help them with their insurance and/or financial matters. Generation X members (17% of the survey group) and Millennials (29%) were much more likely to be in the market for an agent than were Baby Boomers (9%). So how do today’s consumers go about finding an agent? By looking on social media.

The LIMRA report found that 34% of consumers used social media to find an advisor. But the two generations most likely to be shopping were also the ones most likely to use social media to assist in their search. For instance, 51% of Millennials (those age 20-38) used social media to research insurance agents, while 32% of Generation X (age 39-54) did. Only 22% of baby boomers relied on platforms like Facebook and Twitter to find and check out potential financial advisors.

The lesson is obvious: large groups of potential customers are using social media to vet insurance professionals. It stands to reason that if you want them to find you, you must be on social media, too. And to make a good first impression, your branding and content must be top-notch.

Best Practice: Planning

To derive value from your social media investment, try to adhere to best practices. Start by developing a comprehensive social media plan before doing anything else.

Establish what you hope to gain from being on social platforms. Are you looking to augment your sales and commissions, strengthen your brand or both? Do you want to specialize in a certain consumer niche (for example: parents with special-needs children) or a particular kind of insurance (life insurance for buy-sell agreements)? Whatever your goal, writing it down will help you clarify your thoughts and stay focused on hitting your target.

Planning your social media program has another advantage. It will help you to distinguish yourself from your competitors. Insurance agents often have a run-and-gun mindset. They prefer doing more than planning. But when it comes to something like social media marketing, taking the time to think through your actions will help prevent false and possibly damaging starts. It will also make your effort more sustainable. Finally, by planning first, you make it easier to publish strong content without running out of steam. Content is what sets strong social media competitors apart from also-rans. Build a great plan and your robust content and consumer engagement will follow.

Once you have a social media plan in writing, the next step is to create a social media calendar. This translates your desired level of monthly posting into daily and weekly milestones. This will make it easier for you to hit your month-end content-production goal.

Best Practice: Platform Selection

Which social media platform or platforms should you choose? Because time is limited, consider focusing on just one or several. The big three for insurance agents are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. If you have a clientele that skews towards a young demographic, you might try Instagram, which is popular with Millennials.

Facebook is the largest social media network in the world, so it’s almost a default choice. Facebook has many venues for reaching out and bonding with people—from your personal page to a business page you create. Facebook groups are also great engagement venues, with millions of possible options to join. For example, entering “life insurance” in the Facebook Groups search engine returns thousands of matches devoted to that topic. This shows that insurance has some draw on the platform...not as much as sports, TV shows or politics, but enough to potentially put you in front of thousands of local prospects.

LinkedIn is where business professionals hang out. This is where you can let people check out your credentials before doing business. It also provides powerful algorithms that allow you to engage with people in nearby networks. Once you’ve built a large enough contact list, you can begin publishing articles that LinkedIn will feed on your contacts’ walls. Using your contacts to reach out to other prospects is a great way to benefit from the platform as well. One way to engage is by writing testimonials for people you’ve worked with and vice versa (subject to compliance restrictions). Perhaps the best reason to join LinkedIn is to keep tabs on your clients’ professional achievements. The LinkedIn system will automatically notify you when your contacts have career anniversaries or start new positions or jobs. These are obvious touch-base opportunities to see if their insurance needs have changed.

Twitter is a fast-moving platform designed to share nugget-sized information. It’s more personal than LinkedIn, but less emotional or sentimental than Facebook. Its forté is publishing late-breaking political and cultural news, and tracking people’s reaction to it often in the form of rants. But Twitter members also post frequently about other topics of interest, including personal finance.  Complaints about a firm’s poor customer service is common on the platform. Companies that don’t respond swiftly to irate customers often pay a huge reputational price. In short, Twitter is best for listening and learning. By searching for specific insurance hash tags, you can see what’s on people’s minds. Then you can respond with your own ideas, presumably using this knowledge to address their insurance needs.

Instagram probably won’t be a high-priority network for you unless you have a young client base. If you decide to participate, try to make your posts as visually appealing as possible. This isn’t the easiest thing when your topic is insurance. But you can always come up with visual metaphors for insurance concepts such as loss or security, accompanied with quick tips and helpful information in the captions.

Once you select your social media platforms, establish a goal for each one. Possibilities include:

  • Increase your website traffic
  • Generate brand awareness
  • Grow your professional network
  • Increase engagement with the public
  • Move social media contacts down your sales funnel (example: by requesting a white paper or quote)
  • Produce appointments

Clearly, one social media platform can’t achieve all of your goals. That’s why it makes sense to work with several to allow you to leverage each one’s strengths.

Best Practice: Content Development

Don’t just blast sales messages at people on social media. Instead, adopt a content-marketing approach. This involves posting links to educational articles or videos you’ve published on your website. Sharing them on social media will give your contacts a taste for the quality of your advice. It will also show them you sincerely want to help them. Unless you make the paradigm shift from salesperson-always-in-closing-mode to content-publisher-attracting-prospects-with-helpful information, success on social media will remain out of reach.

What do consumers want from your social media page? LIMRA suggests they want to be able to tap your brain about insurance or financial products (62%) and see what other people think and say about you (61%). Using your site to keep in touch with you, to discuss investment strategies with other people and to view video testimonials from real people on how insurance or financial products helped them were significantly less popular (40%, 36% and 24%, respectively).

Beyond achieving those objectives, consumers preferred certain types of content over others. Their top five favorites were:

  • A hint that explains how to save money (39%)
  • Comments from other people (38%)
  • A statistics that makes me look at a specific situation differently (33%)
  • A definition or explanation of an industry term (29%)
  • A quote from someone who has lived through a unique or specific experience (28%)

Hearsay Systems’ Financial Services Social Media Content Study (2020) revealed how consumers reacted to various types of insurance or financial advisor posts. Its analysis of 18 million posts from 173,000 advisors found that authentic and personal content had more engagement than content suggested by corporate marketing or compliance departments. For example, in wealth management, advisors who posted about lifestyle topics such as holidays or health polled 10 times better than those using approved corporate topics.

Hearsay also said lifestyle content performed strongly, growing from 15% of total posts in 2018 to 25% in 2019. The top five most popular lifestyle posts were:

  • Kids and money
  • Travel
  • Millennials and money
  • Healthy living
  • Technology

At first blush, posting lifestyle content might appear to detract from your product or brand posts. In reality, Hearsay says it increases overall interaction, in turn creating a halo effect that enhances the visibility of all your other posts.

Best Practice: Post Automation

Post automation can keep you efficient by scheduling all of your monthly posts in one pass. This lets you batch process your posts when you have free time, then forget about it until next month. This hands-off system handles the busy work while you can focus on daily operations.

Programs like Buffer, Hootsuite and Sprout Social have robust free versions. However, if you need more posts than their free software allows, you might need to upgrade for a fee. If your insurance carrier or insurance marketing organization (IMO) provides corporate versions of such software for you, then you may have no out-of-pocket cost.

According to Hearsay Systems, automated campaigns not only save time, they “blend consistency in message and cadence with minimal effort from the field.” They also feature excellent engagement—30% for life insurance (on their system), 32% for property and casualty insurance and 33% for wealth management. By automating the process, you build a consistent baseline that lets you stay at the forefront of consumer minds.

At the end of the day, though, being educated about social media best practices will only take you so far. Sometimes you just need to dive in and learn from first-hand experience. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of one of the greatest marketing breakthroughs in history: social media.

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